Kerry James Marshall was born in 1955 in Birmingham, Alabama. The subject matter of his paintings, installations, and public projects is drawn from African American culture and rooted in the geography of his upbringing: in 1963 he moved with his family to the Nickerson Gardens public housing project in the Watts district of Los Angeles, just a few years before the race riots began. Marshall was educated at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, where he received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1978 and an honorary doctorate in 1999. As a student, he was greatly influenced by the African American social realist painter Charles White, a professor at Otis. After participating in a number of group shows, Marshall received a resident fellowship from the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1985. In 1987 he and his family settled in Chicago, and in 1991 he was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts that allowed him to concentrate on his art full time. From 1993 to 2006 he taught at the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois, Chicago. In 1997 he received a MacArthur Foundation Grant, an invitation to show his work at documenta 10, and a place in the Whitney Biennial. He also participated in the 1999/2000 Carnegie International Exhibition and in the 2003 Venice Biennale. In 2007 he received a second invitation to show at documenta. Marshall lives and works in Chicago.